Spotting online advertising trends isn't something that should be done in a random fashion, but rather deliberately. If you do discover a trend randomly when you're online, it's certainly advisable to note it, but if you schedule a regular time to purposely look for changes in ads or branding, you're likely to catch more trends sooner. Another good idea is to keep track of the trends in technology as well as what people are searching for online, as these may affect advertising. Remember that noticing patterns is likely to help you in recognizing online advertising trends more than trying to be sure what you're seeing by looking at only one or two ads.
For instance, if you notice on two of the websites you regularly study that the banner ads are missing in favor of smaller side advertisements, this isn't enough information on its own to strongly indicate a trend. Yet, it can inspire you to do more searching on the Internet to see if there are further indications of these online advertising trends. If you notice a similar pattern in the changes between banner and other ads, this can help confirm a trend. Once you've spotted this, then you can search for content on the topic to gain even more insight into related trends.
Regularly using search engine analytic functions to keep up with what people are searching for on the Internet may help you understand the reason for changes in advertising. Online advertising is directed at web users, so when their needs change, ads typically must follow suit. For example, the large rise in the importance of content on the web has shown online advertisers that most Internet searchers aren't looking merely for products alone, but also information such as how to buy and what qualities to look for in certain items. Online advertising trends then became much more information based, with helpful articles to satisfy the web users' need and desire for informed buying decisions.
Paying attention to the releases of new technology is another way to help spot advertising trends. Any new way of reaching an online audience is likely to affect advertising methods and strategies. For example, the ability to geographically target ads to web users increases the reach possible for advertisers, which adds "more bang for the buck" in terms of marketing dollars spent. If company messages can reach a geographically targeted audience, then it's likely that such a technological advance will affect online advertising trends to create more marketing opportunities for smaller, local businesses.